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Daytona Wednesday Notebook

John Dagys’ news and notes from the final day of IMSA-sanctioned test at Daytona…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

***Both of the remaining GTP class cars that had not set times on Tuesday took to Daytona International Speedway on Wednesday, with the No. 24 BMW M Hybrid V8 completing laps with Philipp Eng in the three-hour morning session, while Scott Dixon performed shakedown duties of the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing-run Cadillac V-LMDh just prior to 3 p.m. ET. The two race chassis had completed build in the paddock.

***Acura remained on top of the unofficial time sheets following Wednesday morning’s session but with the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing Acura ARX-06 quickest with a new benchmark 1:35.737 lap time. The No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura, which paced Tuesday, wound up second followed by the No. 31 Action Express Racing-operated Cadillac, which was the only other car to break the 1:36 barrier.

***The afternoon session is currently in progress, with a three-hour night run from 6-9 p.m. set to conclude the two days of track activity.

***Nearly all LMDh cars faced setbacks over the course of the test, with numerous on-track stoppages and limited running at times while teams diagnosed and solved various issues. Multiple drivers voiced increased skepticism over the prospects of having a trouble-free Rolex 24, given the start of official on-track action for the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opener being only seven weeks away.

***While all LMDh manufacturers have gone through the homologation process, none of the four models have been officially rubber-stamped and declared as ‘officially homologated’ according to IMSA technical director Matt Kurdock, who cited supply chain delays that are “creating some struggles” for teams and manufacturers.

***Kurdock told Sportscar365: “It’s paperwork right now. The documentation is in the review and correction phase with the objective that it would be final this month. Our goal is to get through that process and then when we see the cars next time at [the Roar], they will be homologated, stamped and documented.”

***IMSA is set to allow GTP teams to choose the deployment method for launches out of the pit boxes at the Rolex 24 according to Kurdock, who noted that the sanctioning body doesn’t want to add any “unnecessary complications” or “reliability risks” by mandating so-called EV launches or other specific methods.

***Honda Performance Development Vice President Kelvin Fu told Sportscar365 that a 24-hour endurance test was “never a focus” for Acura in the development of its ARX-06. Acura and BMW are poised enter the Rolex 24 without having completed a continuous long-distance endurance test with its cars.

***The No. 10 WTR Acura is a brand-new chassis that was recently built up. It completed a rollout at NCM Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Ky. with Filipe Albuquerque prior to its arrival at Daytona.

***MSR, meanwhile, is still utilizing the same chassis from the start of its testing program although team co-owner Mike Shank told Sportscar365 that they have “another car coming.” Shank said it hasn’t been decided which chassis it will have for the Rolex 24.

***Porsche’s first WeatherTech Championship-based race car, which is sporting the No. 963 numberplate this week for marketing purposes, is chassis 114. Factory LMDh director Urs Kuratle explained that race chassis are designated with the number 1, with 14 indicating the number of Multimatic-built tubs that have been produced.

***Of note, the first six chassis, which were all designated as test cars starting with the number 0, had “some differences” in the production process but were “perfectly homologated” according to Kuratle, including a chassis from the stillborn Audi LMDh project that won’t be used in Porsche’s race car allocation.

***Porsche Penske will sport the car numbers 6 and 7 for the WeatherTech Championship season, in an ode to the two organization’s previous success with the Porsche RS Spyder in mid-2000s.

***Pfaff Motorsports is still exploring the prospects of running a Porsche 963 in the future according to team manager Steve Bortolotti, who said their next round of meetings are set for the ‘Super Sebring’ event in March. Bortolotti expressed concern in the overall operating costs of running a LMDh car, which is understood to be significantly more than originally anticipated.

***GTP teams are utilizing VP Racing Fuels’ new R80 blend, a combination of first and second-generation renewable fuel, for the 2023 season. The blend is similar to TotalEnergies’ 100 percent renewable fuel used by teams in the FIA World Endurance Championship. E20, which consists of 20 percent ethanol, will remain for the LMP2 class with E10 for LMP3, GTD Pro and GTD.

***Kurdock said that it’s IMSA and Michelin’s goal to double-stint tires in the GTP class next year, with allocations to be finalized based on data from this week’s test. It’s understood there is the potential for two compounds to be on offer for the LMDh cars at the Rolex 24 due to the “wide range of temperature applications” typically seen in the race.

***Andrea Bertolini joined Toni Vilander at the wheel of AF Corse’s Ferrari 296 GT3 during the test, in what marked the Finn’s first experience in the V6-powered GT3 contender. “I’ve been involved with the 360, the 430, the 458, 488 and now it’s a new one. The first laps are ones that you always remember,” Vilander told Sportscar365.

***Vilander downplayed his chances of returning for the Rolex 24, with his 2023 race program yet to be finalized by the Italian manufacturer. Simon Mann, who Vilander teamed with in both the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup races and WEC this year, is on-hand at the test, with Risi Competizione race engineer Rick Mayer also present.

***Lamborghini has sold out of new-build Huracan GT3 EVO2s for next year according to Lamborghini Americas senior motorsport manager Chris Ward, who told Sportscar365 that there are still some availability for upgrade kits for previous-generation GT3 Evo models.

***Ward said Iron Lynx will utilize Lamborghini Squadra Corse’s U.S.-based shop in Detroit between this week’s test and the Roar, with the Lamborghini factory-owned Huracan GT3 EVO2 that’s been in action destined to be Iron Lynx’s GTD Pro entry for the Endurance Cup races.

***Andrea Caldarelli, Mirko Bortolotti and Romain Grosjean are three of the four confirmed drivers for the Italian squad’s GTD Pro effort for the Rolex 24, with Iron Lynx set to run two additional cars in the GTD class, including one for the Iron Dames.

***Acura looks set to be represented on the WeatherTech Championship grid with two full-season NSX GT3 Evo22 entries that are due to be announced in the coming weeks. Sportscar365 understands a third car could be possible for the Rolex 24, should KCMG’s GTD Pro entry request be accepted by IMSA.

***The identity of John Farano’s co-driver in the No. 8 Tower Motorsport Oreca 07 Gibson for the full LMP2 season has yet to be announced according to team principal Ricky Capone, who told Sportscar365 that it’s “going to be exciting.” Kyffin Simpson, who will join Farano and NTT IndyCar Series stars Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin for the Rolex 24, is confirmed for the full Endurance Cup.

***Capone said preparations for the team’s debut in the 24 Hours of Le Mans are progressing. Tower has secured an auto-invite in LMP2 courtesy of Farano winning the Jim Trueman Award this year. “It’s a lot of work especially being a U.S. team,” he said. “We’re still looking at options in terms of partners but we’re in the early stages of planning and getting equipment and stuff like that.”

***Earl Bamber Motorsport has two new Type-992 Porsche 911 GT3 Rs on order according to Earl Bamber, who confirmed that his team will be supporting Grove Racing’s efforts in the Hankook 24H Dubai and Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, which will be with a previous-gen Porsche.

***Richard Westbrook has launched his own micro-brewery. Westbrooks Brewery is aimed at producing low-carb beer, which the Chip Ganassi Racing driver said is a rarity in the UK. ‘Laguna Pale Ale,’ featuring the iconic Corkscrew on the can, is the brewery’s first product. Westbrook said the first batch is already nearly sold out.

***He added: “I found it’s given me a healthier relationship with racing because I don’t just get home and think, ‘Oh when’s the next race?’ and be totally rattled in the brain. You’ve got something else to focus on. I kind of wish I did it earlier.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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